Category Archives: Useful and Useless

An Evening In Fort Worth, Texas Without A Plan Can Serve A Purpose

When we’re out on the town in Fort Worth, we usually spend our time at events like plays, concerts and art openings. We rarely go out without a real plan. But we did twice last week, and both evenings went really well. What do you do when you don’t have a plan?

Last Wednesday, we started out with our usual walk and did some necessary shopping. Then David sold a few books at Half Price Books on Hwy. 183. Part of simple living is getting rid of things you don’t need, after all. The highlight of the evening was our first visit to Le’s Wok, a little Asian restaurant in a convenience store on the Near South Side with a great back story about the family who owns it recovering from an attack and competing with the newly opened QT convenience store across the street.

We picked up some cinnamon rolls at Esperanza’s on Park Place (where a sign says the parking is only for Ezmerelda’s patrons!) and then stopped by the Clearfork Food Park where there were two guys playing music and a private party of some kind in progress. We wandered on the river a bit and marveled at a big white bird. Then we finished the evening with some chocolate custard at Curly’s Frozen Custard on Camp Bowie. We should have had peach again, but I wanted something different.

We had no real reason to go out again the next night, but I wanted to. So we took back two of the things we bought on Wednesday that didn’t work and headed toward the Cultural District. We didn’t want to spend much money on dinner, so In-N-Out served the purpose. (Our current order is singles without cheese, mustard instead of sauce, add pickles and onions. I give David my tomato.) Then we strolled through the Amon Carter to have another look at an exhibit that we hadn’t enjoyed the previous week and see if we could make more sense of it. We did.

Next, we headed down Summit to check out the cramped newish Goodwill near Cleburne Road at Berry. After examining an ancient rice cooker and looking at a selection of DVDs that included a collection of Mormon sermons, we pointed the car toward Central Market. The goal was to get a piece of Italian cream cake to share for dessert, but somewhere between Tom Thumb and Trader Joe’s on Hulen we decided to have a dipped cone at McDonald’s instead, a good choice.

So what made these two evenings out so nice? They don’t sound very interesting, do they? They were opportunities to recover from the big experiences of life instead of actually being experiences in their own right. They provided time for us to unwind, let our sore muscles heal and clear our heads. And they were meaningful times together when no one else was looking.

In fact, maybe I shouldn’t have shared so much about our two uneventful evenings on the town. Some Fort Worth secrets are best left unspoken, I suppose.

But I want to make sure you never feel like you’ve run out of things to do. Instead, unplanned evenings out are times when you’re recovering from previous experiences and planning for others. There are concerts, plays, art galleries and, of course plenty of hours of work of one kind or another ahead of you. But why not put those out of your mind and stay in the moment? It might be a moment when looking at all the buttons on an old rice cooker is entertainment enough.

How To Make A Grilled Cheese In A Waffle Maker

I’ve been experimenting recently with how to make things in an electric waffle maker besides waffles. As it turns out, almost everything I’ve tried has been a success, and there’s no simpler way to make a really good grilled cheese than in a waffle maker.

Stay with me for a minute and I’ll tell you how to do it, but as with most everything else I write, there’s a bit of story first.

Other Uses For Your Waffle Maker

It all started a couple of months ago when I bought an Oster Belgian waffle maker. I can’t even remember what got me interested in having one, but since I don’t like gadgets and I don’t like having useless junk around, it took me a while to decide to buy one.

Then, I set out to find other uses for a waffle maker besides just making waffles. As it turns out there are many. The only thing that hasn’t worked very well is making brownies, but that’s a story for another day.

Any kind of bread can be cooked in a waffle maker — including canned biscuits and crescent rolls. And I’ve heard you can even reheat pizza — although I haven’t tried that yet.

While a waffle maker is sold as a single-use machine, it isn’t. It fits perfectly into my simple lifestyle and my strained budget.

Making A Grilled Cheese In A Waffle Maker

After some experimentation, I found that the best way to make a grilled cheese sandwich in a waffle maker is to slap it together and cook it for 90 seconds. That could be the end of the story, but I’ll explain a bit more.

My preferred way to make a grilled cheese has always been to butter two pieces of bread, then start toasting them butter side down in a hot skillet. I add two slices of cheddar or American cheese to one piece of bread, then put the other butter side up over the bread and cheese. Then, I smoosh — that is, squish them

together with a spatula. A quick turn to make sure both sides are toasted evenly and the process is complete.

I tried using buttered bread in the waffle maker, but that just made a greasy and wet sandwich. I found that two slices of cheese between two slices of wheat bread (or something with a bit of sugar in it) works best. Smash the waffle maker closed slightly but not all the way and cook for a minute and a half. If your waffle maker is conditioned well, you don’t need any oil or spray.

That’s it. Process complete. And although I like a long story as much as anyone, there’s really nothing more to say.

Need A Best Buy Email Address? This Might Work For You

If you think Best Buy doesn’t offer customer service by email, you’re wrong. But the company doesn’t make it easy for you. I solved my problem with the company after I finally located a Best Buy email address that works.

At least it worked for me. I’ll tell you how I reached them — and maybe it will work for you too.

My Best Buy Complaint

My problem with Best Buy was very straightforward, but it took six weeks to resolve — and I resolved it by email.

In November 2012, I ordered a $10 MetroPCS By-The-Minute plan card. I’ve ordered these from the company several times since this kind of card was previously unavailable locally. And because I have so much built-up credit on my cell phone, I don’t need the $20 card that’s available at Walmart. (You can now get the $10 card at some MetroPCS corporate stores.)

What was my complaint? I ordered the card and didn’t get it.

You don’t get an actual card, but your supposed to get a code by email within a few minutes — and I didn’t get it. It should be a simple matter to look up the code on the Best Buy website or click a button to ask that the code be resent, but those options aren’t available. Once a code is lost in space, it’s gone forever.

Frustrated that there was no email address for Best Buy listed on their site, I called the 800 number. The representative said this kind of issue is handled by a special department, but his attempts to transfer me failed because that department didn’t answer.

There was nothing more he could do for me. My time explaining the problem and waiting on hold was wasted.

Toward A Best Buy Email Address

I searched the Internet for an email addresses for Best Buy and found a couple. They didn’t work.

So I took another approach. I explained my complaint on the Best Buy Facebook page. (To do that yourself, “like” Best Buy at www.facebook.com/bestbuy— then write on their wall. It won’t do any good to write on your own wall.)

To my surprise, someone from the company responded almost immediately — telling me to email th

em with the details. What email address did they give me? This is what you’ve been waiting for:

facebook@bestbuy.com

I got no immediately response, but after a couple of weeks someone answered. The representative asked for my order information and confirmed that I still hadn’t gotten the code. She also offered a $15 gift card as compensation for my trouble.

I explained that their failure actually cost me an addition $10 since I had to go to Walmart and buy a $20 card when I only needed a $10 card, but that argument wasn’t successful in getting me any additional compensation. She requested a mailing address — not an email address — for the $15 gift card, perhaps because she doesn’t trust the company’s email system either.

It was another couple of weeks after I responded to the Best Buy representative I reached through facebook@bestbuy.com before I got a confirmation and a notice that the charge on my credit card has been reversed. Several days later, I finally got the gift card in the mail.

It took more than six weeks to resolve my Best Buy complaint by email, but since the telephone customer service representative couldn’t help me and didn’t offer any alternatives, what choice did I have but to look for another solution?

Final Thoughts

If this approach hadn’t worked, I planned to contest the charge with my credit card company and let their reps handle Best Buy for me.

By the way, I used the $15 card to buy my January phone card, and I got the code in my email within a few minutes. So there’s hope if you have a problem with Best Buy, but don’t expect a quick resolution or to be able to handle the situation with one simple email as you can with so many other company.

Why doesn’t Best Buy publish an email address? Maybe someone from the company will see this post and respond. But I doubt it. The company doesn’t seem to be Internet savvy.

Still, I’ll post a link on their Facebook page.

Effective Complaining, Creative Complaining: The Whole Jar Of Mushrooms

Complaining to a company about a substandard product or an unpleasant situation can be very effective. In many cases, the company will more than make up for its lapses with coupons, discounts, free items and many other kinds of compensation.

I don’t complain to a company or organization often, but when I do, I almost always get results. The purpose of this post is to tell you an interesting story about creative complaining that someone told me, but first let me tell you how effective my own complaining has been.

Effective Complaining

Off the top of my head, I can think of several situations about which I complained and for which I received compensation. I’ll tell you about three of them.

When I complained by email to a local museum a couple of months ago that I was turned away from viewing their galleries for free because the desk clerk didn’t know the museum was supposed to be free at that time, I received a free lunch, free admission to the galleries and free admission to one of their events — for all three of us who were turned away.

When I complained several years ago to a company that their breakfast cookies weren’t available at a local store as their website said they were, the company sent me a sampler box containing several varieties of their cookies. (And because I liked some of them, I ordered from the company several times.)

Perhaps even longer ago I complained to the corporate office of a fast-food restaurant in Plano because I received a chicken sandwich with only half a piece of chicken in it. The company was switching to smaller pieces for its sandwiches, and the manager at that location thought cutting down some of the old ones was a good way to use them up. I got a gift card for my trouble, and I like to think the manager got a blemish on his record for being so cheap.

There have been others, but I neither want to brag about how much I complain nor embarrass or promote the companies that have been most receptive to my complaints.

Watch Out For A Whole Jar Of Mushrooms

Being creative with the way you complain can increase effectiveness.

A postal clerk I used to see frequently told me about a snail-mail letter — she was a postal clerk, after all — that she sent to a major maker of spaghetti sauce.

I can’t remember her exact wording, of course, but I remember enough to give you a good idea of what she said to them. Here’s my re-creation of the letter she sent the company:

Dear sirs:

I’m not writing to complain, but I wanted to let you know to expect a complaint from another customer soon.

I bought a jar of your spaghetti sauce with mushrooms last week and at first thought it contained no mushrooms. After I dumped it into a bowl and went through it, I found that it did, in fact, contain two mushroom slices.

There were so many mushrooms missing from my jar that I want you to be watching for a complaint from a customer who got a whole jar of mushrooms. Someone must have gotten mine.

Sincerely…

Within a couple of weeks, she had an envelope full of high-value coupons from the company and an apology.

She was creative, and it was effective.

I’m rarely creative with my complaining, but I’m always firm and direct. That’s effective too.

Is “Rototiller” A Trademark? And Why I Care

Is the term “Rototiller” trademarked? It’s the kind of question a writer like me finds myself asking. I’ll tell you why I needed to know — then I’ll tell you the answer.

The Weirdness Of A Writer’s Life

One of the writing agencies for which I sometimes work allows writers to pick up open orders, join writing teams and also accept direct orders from clients. I almost never manage to snag any of the orders that are offered to one of the four teams that have accepted me, but earlier this week, I caught a few quick and simple orders from one of the teams.

One of the requests was simple enough: a few hundred words about rototilling.

But I can’t do that, can I? If Rototiller is a trademarked term, then rototilling isn’t a real word. This agency requires Associated Press style (which I studied in journalism school), but no stylebook approves of repeatedly using a fake verb based on the improper use of trademarked noun.

So I’ll skip the assignment, I thought. But I need the work, and there was nothing else to do at that moment.

I took the job after I discovered that my concerns were unfounded.

You see, writers are concerned with little details like whether a word is the right one to use. It matters to us. Using a trademark as a generic noun isn’t acceptable. Neither is making fake verbs from them. Words like aspirin and escalator were one trademarks, but their owners didn’t protect them and they fell into general usage.

The writing magazines that I read as a teenager contained ads from Kimberly-Clark Corp., a company that makes paper products. The most frequent ad went like this: “To all the writers, editors, copyeditors and proofreaders who use the trademark Kleenex followed by the words ‘facial tissue’, Kimberly-Clark says bless you.”

The company ran those ads to prove, if they ever needed to, that they tried to protect their trademark. The word Kleenex was and is in danger of falling into general usage, canceling out the rights of its trademark holder. And that’s fine with me actually. I’m long past any interest in intellectual property rights.

No novelist will ever write: “She cried so long she went through an entire box of Kleenex brand facial tissue.” But lawyers would like those hypothetical novelists better if they would.

In any case, using trademarks in writing is a no-no I know.

But Is Rototiller A Trademark?

The answer is no.

As it turns out, Rototiller doesn’t deserve the capital letter I’m placing at it’s beginning. The word rototiller is a perfectly acceptable term for any brand of rotary cultivator.

Truthfully, I’d rather write “rotary cultivator” or “rotary tiller”, but I can legally, ethically and confidently write about rototillers and rototilling (and watch my word processing software place a squiggly red line under every occurrence) if that’s what’s needed.

So why isn’t it a trademark? Was it ever?

The idea of rotary cultivation started to get attention in the United States in the 1920s. By the early 1930s, C.W. Kelsey had established The Rototiller Co., a New York enterprise aimed at importing European cultivators and selling them to Americans. Originally called “earth grinders” by some people, Kelsey trademarked the name Rototiller to refer to the rotary tilling machines he imported.

Rocky American soils damaged the sensitive European machines, and Kelsey soon started making his own rotary tillers. Several models were available, and other companies started making similar products.

Eventually, the trademark on the term Rototiller expired, leaving other makers free to call their machines by the name Kelsey established.

And they did.

That’s the short version of the story about how rototillers lost their trademark and their capital letter at the front.

Rotary cultivation may forever be known as rototilling. You may not care one way or the other what the process is called, and you may not even think much about the topic. That’s okay.

There is a subsection of humanity known by the term “writer”, and we worry about words so you need not bother with them yourself.

The Christmas Birthday Bloggers Club

Rejoice! For today is born in a rural area outside Fort Worth, Texas a blog post that collects Christmas-birthday bloggers in one location for the benefit of the world.

It may not matter much to you, but I always think it’s interesting when I find a person whose birthday is on Christmas day. As you may or may not know, that’s my birthday.

I tell people I was born on the same day as Jesus and Barbara Mandrell, but we’re not the only ones who claim December 25th as our birthday. The scientist Isaac Newton shares the same birth date as me, although his was in 1642 and mine was in 1972.

Other names you might recognize that belong to Christmas babies include Red Cross founder Clara Barton, singer Dido (just one year before me), actresses CCH Pounder and Sissy Spacek, singer Jimmy Buffett and science fiction pioneer Rod Serling.

Humphrey Bogart shares the same birthday too, kid.

In my vast search of the Internet’s many compelling blogs, however, I’ve only located two other bloggers who were born on Christmas. I’ve always known I was special, but I can’t believe that there aren’t more people who belong in this Christmas Birthday Bloggers Club that I’m officially starting right now.

I admit that locating other bloggers with Christmas birthdays hasn’t exactly been my life’s passion, but I think this topic is worth at least this one blog post, don’t you?

Here’s a little information about the two bloggers I’ve located so far who were born on Christmas day:

Matt Madeiro
www.threenewleaves.com

I’ve followed Matt’s blog for a long time. I suppose I found him because he came to comment on my blog after one of my guest posts on someone else’s blog, but I don’t really remember. That may not be right at all.

In any case, Matt writes about three leaves of his life: losing weight, moving more and being happier — things he rightly believes we can achieve through living simple lives.

Dia Thabet
www.2achieveyourgoals.com

I’ve followed Dia’s blog for a long time too. In fact, he must have been one of the first bloggers I discovered when I started blogging, but I can’t remember for sure how I located him either.

Dia is a personal development coach and consultant who helps people achieve whatever they want. He has more than a decade of involvement in personal development topics including the law of attraction, positive thinking, time management and relationships.

And, then, of course, there’s me:
Gip Plaster
www.somuchmorelife.com

I write here at Gip’s Front Yard, but I also write at So Much More Life about simple, minimalist living.

I suggest that living a simple, deliberate life means eliminate the things from your life that separate you from the best possible version of yourself. Once you’ve done that, add in things only if they bring you closer to your ideal. Living a simple, deliberate life really is that simple.

Do you know other bloggers who were born on Christmas day? If you do, please share them with me and I’ll add them to this page.

Behold…

Oh, never mind.

Is The High Maltose Corn Syrup In Fiber One Bars Just As Bad As HFCS?

The question is simple enough, and although the answer involves some complex science, so is the answer: Is the high maltose corn syrup found in many candies, bars (including Fiber One bars), baked good and beer as bad for you as the high fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and a huge variety of processed foods?

Yes.

Corn syrups are used in processed food because they act as preservatives and are cheaper than using real sugar to sweeten a product. Consumption of HFCS has increased rapidly since the 1980s as it has been included in more foods.

The Problem With High Fructose Corn Syrup

There are three big problems with HFCS, one of the most commonly used corn syrups.

First, this additive has been attacked by health advocates for being a major contributor to the obesity problem, particularly in the United States. That’s largely because it so common that it’s hard to avoid. Whether this particular syrup is worse for you than another is a debatable point, however, since all sugars contribute equally to weigh gain.

Second, the body metabolizes this sweetener in a way that makes it enter the bloodstream quicker than regular sugar, and that makes it potentially harmful for diabetics and others with difficulty tolerating sugars.

Third, high fructose corn syrup is actually sweeter, according to some people, and repeatedly consuming it supposedly increasing consumers’ appetites for sweetness. In other words, HFCS is so sweet that it may make those who eat it want even more sweets.

But What About High Maltose Corn Syrup?

People are particularly concerned about the use of high maltose corn syrup in Fiber One bars because these bars are sometimes viewed as health foods. That’s a mistaken judgment, however. While the fiber in Fiber One products has obvious beneficial effects, these bars are otherwise the same as candy.

The corn syrup in Fiber One bars is a sugar that contributes to weight gain and should therefore be avoided by those trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

High maltose corn syrup is made when an enzyme or acid breaks cornstarch down into a syrup that contains at least 35 percent maltose. The exact formula varies by maker.

Some believe this syrup is being used more frequently because it confuses consumers. When they see a label that shows HMCS instead of HFCS, they may assume a company has switched sweeteners to make the product healthier.

HMCS is actually a better manufacturing choice for some baked goods and bars, however, because it has different characteristics that HFCS.

High maltose corn syrup is a good choice for hard candy and is less likely to become sticky that its better known cousin. It also freezes at a lower point, making it a frequent additive in frozen desserts.

While there are fewer studies of this syrup than of HFCS, there is no evidence to suggest that it a better choice than any other sugar.

The Bottom Line

High fructose corn syrup has been discussed so much in the media that many consumers now have a negative reaction to it. High maltose corn syrup does not yet elicit an unfavorable response from consumers, so some manufacturers may use it instead of HFCS to confuse consumers. Others may simply use it because it is a better choice for their products.

Many fiber products contain sugar because fiber is difficult to stomach without it. Consumers have to choose if they are willing to accept consuming large quantities of processed sugar to make their fiber more palatable or if they prefer to get fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and other healthy sources.

For people trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, one processed sugar is essential the same as another, no matter the name. While there are complicated differences in how some processed sugars are digested, none belong in a healthy diet.

PayPal Calling: Call From 800-830-8574 Could Really Be PayPal

When an automated voice left a message a few weeks ago wanting me to call them back and confirm some transactions on my PayPal debit card account, it sounded suspicious to me.

Calling under the guise of confirming information is a classic scammer technique. For that reason, reputable companies don’t leave voicemails asking for personal information. Do they?

PayPal, a reputable company that boasts about having more than 100 million users, apparently does.

The call was from 800-830-8574 according to my cell phone’s caller ID, so I did an online search for the number and found some references to it actually being associated with PayPal. I also found warnings, however, indicating that such a thing must surely be a scam.

It certainly seemed like a scam.

After weighing my options, I decided to call back and see what happened. As long as I didn’t provide much information, there’s no way it could cause me a problem, and calling back would satisfy my journalistic curiosity.

Calling from the same number at which I was called, I got an automated system that asked only for the last four digits of my PayPal debit card. There’s nothing a criminal could do with only that piece of information — found on receipts and routinely sent in email purchase confirmations anyway — so I entered it.

I was relieved to find that the automated voice then told me who I was. I didn’t need to provide any personal information.

It wasn’t a scam. The number 800-830-8574 belonged to a bank acting on behalf of PayPal, calling to verify recent transactions on my debit card as a protection against fraud.

The automated voice read me my five most recent transactions, I confirmed each of them and the call ended.

That’s all it was.

Fortunately, I had recently read a blog post from a writer who warned that PayPal will suspend the debit card of users who don’t call back when asked to verify transactions, so I knew they sometimes ask for this kind of verification.

And since much of my writing income arrives by PayPal, I knew an immediate response was necessary if it really was PayPal calling so I wouldn’t lose access to my money.

It is important to point out that faking a phone number on caller ID is a simple thing to do, so seeing 800-830-8574 is not an indication that it’s actually someone calling on behalf of PayPal. PayPal or someone operating on their behalf could also call from another number, and they could discontinue use of this number at any time.

It’s also never a good idea to provide personal information by telephone. But if a caller can tell you who you are with only something as simple as the last four digits of your card number, it’s probably okay.

Whether it’s a good idea for PayPal and its debit card issuer to alarm their clients by asking them to discuss their debit cards by telephone is another matter entirely.

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Lesbian Fiction Isn’t Hot Anymore

Not long after I decided to make online bookselling my career — before I got a scouting service for my cell phone and years before I bought a PDA and barcode scanner — I stumbled onto a large collection of lesbian fiction in the clearance section at one of Fort Worth’s Half Price Books locations.

Not knowing if they would selling, I decided to risk the $1 each and snap up dozens of them. Surprisingly, about half of them had value. Some were worth $12 or $15. Some were worth $45 or $60 each. Why were some of these little books of a subject completely foreign to me worth more than the “new” price printed on their back covers? Was there something I didn’t know about the writing abilities of these women with names like Claire McNab and Karin Kallmaker?

I was learning that some bookselling opportunities come inside windows that eventually close.

In the case of the lesbian fiction, Naiad Press was dropping its writers as the company’s founders prepared to retire. By the time Naiad closed in 2003, Bella Books was already putting the dropped authors’ work back into print, but there was a period when many Naiad lesbian fiction writers were out of print and hard to find. During that period, I was a new bookseller cruising the clearance shelves of that used bookstore — part of a chain that was apparently unaware of this microscopic development in the publishing world. I quickly scoured other used bookstore and found dozens more valuable Naiad titles ready for me to use as a source of income.

That was my first open window, soon closed.

A second came when that same bookstore chain decided to clear out their remaining inventory of used audio books on tape. Cassette players were no longer standard equipment on cars, so no one would want books on tape anymore, right? They could not have been more wrong. Equipped with scouting service on my cell phone, I made good buying decisions. I moved dozens upon dozens of these items from the clearance shelves of Half Price Books into my inventory and into homes and older cars around the country. That window is now closed, too, of course.

Here’s another example. During my usual book-buying rounds, I noticed a new thrift store opening behind a restaurant in a mostly empty shopping center. The place was stocked almost entirely with salvage items from Target, complete with the little red stickers that let me in on the secret. Better yet, I must have been the only scout who visited the store because I found lots of great CDs there. I bought dozens of high-value classical music CDs (yes, many had once been on the shelves at Target) for $2.50 each on my fist visit. I quickly returned for even more. I also found a $150 computer software book and some other nice things there before it closed a few months later with fanfare equal to that of its opening. Window closed, too.

Still another time, I bought hundreds of CDs with library marking from a Friends of the Library group for $25 and am still selling them. And…

So what’s the point of the examples? There’s no consistency in the online book (and media) business, but there are lots of windows of opportunity.

Let me put it another way: I don’t find lesbian fiction hot, although I did for a few months. Books on tape got hot for awhile — and they didn’t even warp.

I haven’t found a hot deal in awhile, but I’m always looking. There could be one tomorrow.

“Lost in Space Forever” (Obscure DVD Review)

These things aren’t usually any good, but this one is.

Documentaries about old television series are often just collections of clips held together with a bad voice-over by an anonymous announcer. “Lost in Space Forever” is different, though. Actor John Larrroquette, a surprisingly good host, joins the Robot on a reconstruction of the series’ primary set. The tribute show’s script makes sense of the series’ style variations, explaining how it evolved from a black-and-white pilot without a villian to a psychadelic reflection of the time of its production rather than the time of its portrayal. Of course, modern interviews with the cast are there, too. Everything you expect from a retrospective finds its way in.

Before, I go any further, however, I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen an episode of “Lost in Space”. I grew up after it had ended its three-year run and at a time when reruns of it weren’t available in my area. I like anything related to science fiction, so when I found a nice copy of “Lost in Space Forever” on clearance recently, I took a chance. I was pleased to find this presentation makes a perfect introduction to the series. I can’t imagine a better way to get into it.

Series fans will likely be pleased to see Jonathan Harris and Bill Mumy briefly reprise their roles as Dr. Smith and Will Robinson for a new scene at the end of the documentary. A behind-the-scenes featurette even shows Harris and Mumy walking onto the new set for the first time. Lengthy clips of special effects film and Guy Williams’ original screen test for the part of also included, along with a CBS presentation to potential sponsors that features clips from the original pilot.

The documentary was produced for television to help renew interest in the series to coincide with the release of the (apparently dreadful, although I haven’t seen it either) 1998 “Lost in Space” film.

If you, like me, are wondering what you’ve been missing, this is a great way to pick up a little knowledge of this cult favorite series. Like the Star Trek original series and Britain’s classic Doctor Who (two of my favorites), it looks a bit campy, but what’s wrong with that? I probably won’t rush out to buy the whole series anytime soon, but if I find it on clearance, I might take a chance again.

This post was rescued from one of my old blogs and was originally posted July 7, 2009.